The U.S. military could have kicked in doors to raid a suspected terrorist cell in the United States without a warrant under a Bush-era legal memo the Justice Department made public on Monday.
The memo, from October 23, 2001, also said constitutional free-speech protections and a prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure could take a back seat to military needs in fighting terrorism inside the country.
It was one of nine previously undisclosed memos and legal opinions which shed light on former President George W. Bush’s legal guidance as he launched a war against terrorism after the September 11 attacks.
“The government’s compelling interests in wartime justify restrictions on the scope of individual liberty,” it said.
Other memos held that the president had broad power to detain U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism and to suspend treaty obligations on issues as seen fit.
The memos depict an administration apparently determined to assert sweeping powers for the president after the shock of September 11, and add fuel to critics’ charges that fundamental constitutional protections were threatened in the process.